Massage & Bodywork

January/February 2008

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spa élan BY ANNE WILLIAMS WINTER WONDER WRAPS—PART 2 The Cocoon The weather outside might be frightful, but the delightful scents and sensations of holiday-inspired body wraps provide a useful respite from seasonal stress and give massage clients some new treatment options. Part one focused on the hot sheet wrap procedure (October/ November 2007, page 118). This installment looks at the cocoon procedure. (These wrapping procedures can be mixed and matched with different products for a variety of winter wonder wraps.) In a cocoon, the treatment product is not dissolved in water as it is in a hot sheet wrap, but is applied directly to the client before he/she is wrapped in plastic and a blanket. Mud, seaweed, emollient-rich heavy butters (i.e., almond, babassu, shea, etc.), and other natural products (oatmeal, pumpkin, yogurt, etc.) are often used with this procedure. The warmth from the heated products, the use of massage to either apply the product or as a separate treatment step, and the time for quiet reflection while enveloped in winter-inspired smell-scapes reduce stress and muscular tension, leaving the client feeling revitalized and rested. GENERAL TREATMENT CONSIDERATIONS Before delivering any type of body wrap, a careful pretreatment health interview must be carried out with the client to make sure there are no contraindications for the treatment. For example, clients with shellfish allergies are likely to be allergic to seaweed, while clients with broken skin should not receive a treatment with mud. Sudden claustrophobia is always a concern with body wraps. Even clients who have no previous experience with claustrophobia can become anxious or panic stricken when wrapped up. It is recommended that the therapist remains with the client at all times, in order to remove the wrapping if the client becomes anxious. WINTER COCOON IDEAS HEAVY BUTTERS Heavy butters like babassu butter, almond butter, or shea butter feel warm, rich, and luxurious as they are applied to the skin. Shea butter, which comes from the nut of Vitellaria paradoxa (synonym: Butyrospermum parkii), a tree found only in parts of Africa, is particularly popular. Shea nuts have traditionally been processed and used by women in West Africa to protect their skin from drying out in the hot African sun. Pure shea butter has a firm texture and must be slowly warmed in a double boiler until it is a liquid and applied to the body to absorb. Excess shea that has not absorbed is massaged into the skin at the end of the service; it does not need to be removed. Shea butter is composed mainly of triglycerides and linoleic acid. It is high in vitamins A, E, and F. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti- arthritic, skin soothing, skin healing, and skin moisturizing properties, and it is believed to bring relief from chronic skin diseases, scarring, and stretch marks. An emollient cocoon using a heavy butter might be delivered as follows (I will detail these steps later): exfoliate, massage warm melted butter onto the body, cocoon, unwrap, and perform a full-body massage using the excess butter as the lubricant. If the spa or clinic has a steam canopy, the client might be steamed in the butter instead of being wrapped up. Emollient cocoons can be customized with different essential oil smell-scapes (see Shea Winter Smell-Scapes, page 129, for ideas). 126 massage & bodywork january/february 2008

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